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How to Increase your CQ with the CultureQ Framework


CultureQ Framework

In a world defined by increasing diversity and interconnection, cultural intelligence (CQ) is vital. Just as IQ represents your reasoning ability, EQ represents your emotional intelligence, the ability to empathize with others and understand their perspectives, CQ measures your capacity to relate and work effectively with diverse people and scenarios. This form of intelligence is vital to leadership and management practices in the modern globalized world. From cultural knowledge to communication and workplace behaviour, CQ impacts all aspects of teamwork and collaboration, including your ability to grow into new markets.


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In this article, we'll analyze two central pillars of cultural intelligence. First, you'll learn to uncover your cultural DNA through deep personal examination. And then, we'll put new building blocks in place to foster communication and collaboration. Through honest reflection and tough convos, we can develop a more inclusive company culture that leaves no one behind.


Uncovering Cultural DNA


Cultural DNA is a collection of instructions that shape the growth and development of individuals, teams and companies through shared systems, values, and norms. The cultural DNA of your organization is shaped by individuals, with the health of the collective affected by the competence of each team member. In order to drive positive cultural change, leaders need to inspire greater levels of awareness of themselves and others.


From the cradle to the grave and beyond, culture is created by information that's learned, filtered, and distributed. People store and transmit information by copying, teaching, and learning from the past. If you want to build a stronger and more diverse team, it's important to step back and examine where this information came from. Individuals and organizations are intertwined with cultural lessons, and opinions need to be examined before they can be changed or expanded upon.


As a team leader, it's important to challenge your reality, check your privilege, and review your beliefs constantly. The ability to see both sides of a situation has been referred to pan-determinism in some literature, and it's an incredibly valuable skill to have. While every person and culture has intrinsic biases, and human behaviours are the symptom of numerous biological and social conditions, growth which implies change is always possible.


Understanding your own cultural DNA as well as your team's helps to support and promote real teamwork. Learning about the source of your belief systems helps to build integrity, which gives you the courage to stand up, recognize intolerance, and embrace new ways of interacting with the world. Whether you own a small local business or manage a large global enterprise, cultural competence is a central aspect of modern team culture.


Uncovering Cultural DNA


Building Cultural Intelligence


Once you've completed a thorough examination of your cultural DNA, it's time to start building. The second stage of CQ is about stepping out of your world and diving into the worlds of others around you. Everyone is shaped by their community and their environment, and the more you expose yourself, observe and listen to different folks, the more you learn. From neighbours and colleagues to random people on the street, you become a wiser person by looking at the world through other people's eyes.


The first step in this process is about recognizing and respecting the intrinsic value of other people. Granting importance to others is a fundamental aspect of cultural awareness. Respect goes a long way and builds relationships faster than gifts and niceties. Additionally, it gives you a deeper understanding of the way the world works around you. Open and honest communication is key to this process, when it's safe to share, more people are willing to let go of habits that don't serve them and instead grow with new ideas.


The following communication skills are essential for any team leader:

  1. Active listening (intentionally receiving the other person's message)

  2. Clear speaking (not beating around the bush)

  3. Honest empathy (finding what's admirable about that person)

  4. Transparency (sharing and not working for self interests alone)

  5. Open feedback (willing to engage in positive and negative criticism)


Along with mutual respect and cultural communication, there are also practical ways to build your CQ. One of the best ways to understand different groups is to observe their rituals. From personal celebrations to community and religious events, cultures are largely defined by the things they share. If you want to go deeper, there are lots of ways to participate in different cultures and learn lessons from the inside out.


To develop a healthy company culture based on strength and diversity of both people and thought, it's important to develop new leader skills that embrace difference and promote positive change. Promote working relationships based on mutual respect, teach people to appreciate different belief systems, and seek out uncomfortable situations in order to grow as a collective.


If you want to develop a higher level of cultural awareness and become a better global citizen, we are here to support that goal. Contact our Tough Convos team to learn more.

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